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It Is Not Better to Have Libris and Lost

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DianeL
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It Is Not Better to Have Libris and Lost

Post by DianeL » Mon May 30th, 2011, 5:06 pm

We have a lot of discussions about books, but I don't see any about The Books that Got Away, and wanted to ask everyone about books they have loved which were lost or "borrowed" (forever) or otherwise escaped your loving grasp. We've probably all had it happen, and I'm intrigued by the way we lose things, and thought the folks here would have terrible, wonderful, even thoughtful stories about books they once loved but no longer have possesion of.

My brother read a book when he was in college (probably around 1986), "The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks" by Donald Harington. Indeed a work of historical fiction, it was also a picaresqe, an episodic series of fables and tall tales, a history of a family, and a history of a wonderful, fictional town in (oddly enough) Arkansas, the town of Stay More. He liked it so muc he wanted to give a copy to me ... but, try as he might, in the late 1980s we didn't have Bibliofind or Teh Intarwebs, and he never could find another. So he wrote the most beautiful note - about that - in it ... and gave me his own copy. Probably the single most meaningful gift book I ever received. And I did hugely enjoy the story; I just loved it.

I read it, and re-read it, I recommended it up down and sideways, I got goopy over it, and always ALWAYS attached to it its significance as a talisman of the love of my brother.

In the fullness of time, the internet DID come to exist, and one day ten years or so after he'd given me the book, I came to be friends with a woman in Arkansas, who actually KNEW Donald Harington, not well, but worked at the same institution he did. The rest can be guessed - she was a sweet soul, and generous, and offered to take my beloved book and have him sign it.

I've never seen it again, a dozen or so years later. *Le Sigh*

The story doesn't quite end there exactly. Nine-ish years ago, I dated a guy for a little while - also a writer, though I can't say a great one - who was from the first instant a bit more "enthusiastic" about our relationship than I ever got to be. Apparently, on our first date, I mentioned TAOTAO (see the title re: the acronym) ... and on our *second* date, this guy had eBayed up a FIRST EDITION copy of the novel. Eep.

It would have been an amazing gift, if it had come from someone I (a) had a relationship with, or (b) at least *eventually* came to really love. As things stood, though, it was just sort of too-much/too-desperate, and after all these years, following the moments I sort of leafed through it in the instant he gave me the gift ... I have never opened it one time. I still have it, but the emotional energy of that book is ambivalence - whereas the emotional power of the one my brother had given me, just a paperback, with bent covers, and filled with both his own note and my own marginalia, was intimately affectionate.

The importance we imbue objects with, it seems to me becomes even more special with books. I once had a terrible scene with someone who'd broken up with me, and from whom I asked for a book back, because it represented to me the essence of that part of myself he was rejecting - and he wanted to keep it, which was almost more insulting than the end itself. Books of my father's still can make me weep - and the bookshelf I built with him is one of my proudest possessions.

Even apart from the loss of our most beloved books, I am fascinated at the ways a bound sheaf of pages ... can become something so much more important ... Anybody have any tales of books loved and lost? Or loved - and given? Or ... just loved?
Last edited by DianeL on Mon May 30th, 2011, 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon May 30th, 2011, 6:07 pm

I don't think I've ever been as attached to a particular book as you were to the one your brother gave you, Diane. But there was a book I loved as a child. It had a purple binding and silver letters. One of those that obviously had a lovely dust jacket at one point, but was now without it. It was a book of Italian fairy tales. I cannot remember the title, and only recollect bits of the stories. I think my mother gave it away. I'd love to find another copy again some day.

On the subject of special books...anyone seen Definitely, Maybe? April's book story just about made me cry.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Mon May 30th, 2011, 7:26 pm

If I love my book that much or if it was one that was very expensive then no I dont loan it out, because I dont want to lose it. If it is a fiction book then I will likely loan it out because I don't care that much about my fictionbooks.

However, my nonfiction collection of victorian era books dont leave my sight.
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SonjaMarie
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Post by SonjaMarie » Mon May 30th, 2011, 7:54 pm

[quote=""Divia""]
However, my nonfiction collection of victorian era books dont leave my sight.[/quote]

Well except for the one you loaned me, but you got that back safe and sound :)

Once I finish a book, unless it has an image of Lady Jane for my collection, they don't really mean that much to me but some are too expensive to loan, and I'm too lazy (i.e. I'd rather read) to put them on Ebay yet.

SM
Last edited by SonjaMarie on Mon May 30th, 2011, 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Mon May 30th, 2011, 10:07 pm

Okay, point taken - I feel a bit of a tool. My apologies for the thread.
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"

***

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

***

http://dianelmajor.blogspot.com/
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SonjaMarie
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Post by SonjaMarie » Mon May 30th, 2011, 11:40 pm

Oh please don't feel that way! Many of us have started threads that didn't work, it's bound to happen. When I do, I just try another topic again later, and that might work better or not, it's hit or miss!

SM
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Tue May 31st, 2011, 1:04 am

Most of the threads I start go down the drain. :) I wouldn't worry.

One reason I got a nook is because I was sick of buying books and them taking up space in my house. I'm tired of the pile of fiction books I have.

I know there are some on here who cherish their fiction books.
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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Tue May 31st, 2011, 1:16 am

Unsuccessful threads aren't surprising to me; what I didn't expect was to have it pointed out to me that I had asked for my losses by lending out books (not precisely the case), and to have so many posts pointing OUT what an unsuccessful thread this was. Ignoring it was an option. I just thought people might have stories. It appears I was wrong. So it goes.

No hard feelings. I'm just confused why there should be responses at all, considering the idea wasn't engaging.
Last edited by DianeL on Tue May 31st, 2011, 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"

***

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

***

http://dianelmajor.blogspot.com/
I'm a Twit: @DianeLMajor

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue May 31st, 2011, 8:47 am

Hey I don't see any posts saying it's an unsuccessful thread or criticising you for lending out your book.....

Anyhoo, I just read this thread for the first time and very much enjoyed reading your story. It is fascinating how we can imbue objects with the emotional circumstances they are attached to.

I don't have such an interesting story, but when my sister emigrated about 18 years ago shortly after getting married, she boxed up and shipped out many books from the family home that she thought her (then yet-to-be-born) children would want - despite the fact that many were mine, including some of my favourite HF! I took the pragmatic approach that it wasn't worth falling out over and have got over it and some I have replaced, but it would have been nice to have had the original editions of books that I first fell in love with.

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Post by Vanessa » Tue May 31st, 2011, 10:03 am

One book I loved as a child was Charlotte's Web by E B White. I read it over and over again until it fell apart!! I was devastated - my mother felt impelled to go out and buy me a new copy. :D

I've often lent books out and not got them back. I think some people forget a book has a back to it! One of them was The Thorn Birds - oh, how I loved that book at the time!
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